Home > The Body Politic > Performance Pay? Why not!

Performance Pay? Why not!

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"Well, it's important to our country, and I am the minister of education, and I am committed to raising achievement..."

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Education Minister, Hekia Parata, has indicated that performance pay is back on National’s agenda for teachers in this country,

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Full Story

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In the Fairfax report, Parata states quite candidly,

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Whether it’s promotion, pay, opportunities to attend conferences or representative roles, or whatever – there are a mix of rewards that I think would be reasonably easy to settle on

The precursor to being able to reward monetarily or in leadership opportunities is to have a really reliable evaluation system and one that has real integrity and regard for it.

We’re at the very early stages of developing that kind of system. But that would be essential to be able to get to a point where you could make discriminatory choices.” – Ibid

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However, she was less than candid on TVNZ’s Q+A on 25 March, where she had this exchange with interviewer, Shane Taurima,

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SHANE Let’s go back to teaching quality, because you’ve been quoted this weekend saying that pay performance is back on the table. Is that correct?

MS PARATA Look, I think the first thing that has to be on the table is having a robust and reliable appraisal system that allows us to make those kinds of differentiations. If we want to raise teacher quality, we have to identify who is delivering successful practice and make that common practice. We have to identify where we need to improve the professional learning and development so that teachers can engage with students successfully and our students’ achievement is raised.

SHANE So is that back on the table, pay performance? Is that part of your thinking, I suppose?

MS PARATA Look, I think it’s really important that we don’t think there’s one kind of silver bullet, and I think that the mix of rewards that we might want to have available are second-order to having an appraisal system that we can all rely on. And the point of an appraisal system is not to punish or blame but to identify where the best practice is occurring, how we get that happening across all schools and where improvement needs to occur and how we get support in.

SHANE Former education minister Anne Tolley, she told the NZEI annual meeting last year, and I quote, “I’ve made it very clear that this government has no intention of pursuing performance pay.” Has that changed?

MS PARATA Again, I think we need to focus on what our purpose is, which is raising achievement of all New Zealand students.

SHANE So you’re not absolutely ruling it out?

MS PARATA No, I’m not ruling it out or ruling it in. I’m saying that the purpose of the education system is to send kids out into the world with a qualification that’s meaningful. In order to do that, we need to have quality teaching in the classrooms, all the way from year one through to year 13.”

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Ms Parata seemed somewhat reticent during  the interview to come straight out and let the public know what National’s agenda was on the issue of performance pay for teachers.

It seems fairly clear, from the leaked documents that performance pay for teachers is very much on National’s agenda. I suspect that with so much going wrong recently, the party hierarchy have decided not to make public this little detail just yet. There are too many ‘fish hooks’ in such a policy and the last thing the Nats need right now is yet more industrial action – this time from teachers unwilling to cop any reduction in their wages and conditions. They’ve seen what’s been happening throughout the country, with one industry after another experiencing strikes, lock-outs, and reductions on pay and conditions.

Key, Parata, and others in the  National hierarchy understand full well that if push-comes-to-shove, teachers will strike.

So it’s “softly,softly” at the moment with performance pay.

However…

Shane Taurima then asked a very interesting and very clever question of Ms Parata,

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SHANE You’ve made the commitment to lift the number of 18-year-olds with level 2 NCEA from 68% to 85% over five years. Is that an absolute must-achieve for you or is it an aspiration?

MS PARATA Well, look, it’s both. I mean, I aspire to that, but the fact is our country needs well-qualified young people.

SHANE I suppose my point in asking the question…

MS PARATA I’m committed to achieving 85%. That means we need to collaborate across the sector and indeed the country. We need, outside of schools, for parents to be committed to their children doing well, to have high expectations of them and to go into schools and demand those expectations.

SHANE The point of my question, I suppose, is that if you don’t meet the target, is this when you put your career on the line today and you say, “If I don’t meet the target, this is what happens”?

MS PARATA Look, of course we must have ambitious goals as a government, and I am ambitious for students in the New Zealand education system. We cannot have more of the same. It means we have to do something different. So if…

SHANE So does that mean putting your career on the line and saying, “I will achieve it”?

MS PARATA I don’t think we need to get quite that dramatic.”

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Interesting. Ms Parata plans to put teachers on performance-related pay – but is not prepared to do likewise herself. Parata states that she is committed “to lifting the number of 18-year-olds with level 2 NCEA from 68% to 85% over five years” – but is not willing to put her performance to the test.

Performance-related pay for teachers:  Must Have.

Performance-related pay for politicians: Too dramatic.

Ok, I think we can see how this works.

In this respect, she reminds me of another current Minister, Paula Bennett.

When much younger, and on the DPB, Ms Bennett used the Training Incentive Allowance to fund her way through  University  and to buy a house – and then  immediatly scrapped the TIA when she became Minister.

The odour in the air is called rank hypocrisy.

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= fs =

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  1. SpaceMonkey
    26 March 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Look… I’m not ruling it out or ruling it in… but perhaps now is a good time to actually ask the question: what is the purpose of education? It is debatable that the “purpose of education is to send kids out into the world with a qualification that’s meaningful”… meaningful to whom? I’ve just been through primary school again with my children, we’re now into secondary school, and from what I’ve seen over the last decade, we have a very good education system. I only wish I had the kind of education my kids have received/are receiving.

  2. 26 March 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Indeed, Spacemonkey, well said!

    In fact, Finland is at the top of the OECD’s PISA survey of education performance. We rank at #7.

    Table ranking here: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/54/12/46643496.pdf

    By contrast, the USA is 15-equal with Poland. (And the US is where National isplanning to import it’s highl contentious, unproven “Charter Schools” system from.

    Instead of National constant beating-up on teachers, perhaps it might be more constructive to provide more resourcing to education; reduce or eliminate the need for school fees; and make teaching a desirable profession.

  3. samwise
    30 March 2012 at 11:26 am

    Performance pay for politicians? Yeah right, like that’ll ever happwen!

  4. Paul
    30 March 2012 at 11:57 am

    samwise :

    Performance pay for politicians? Yeah right, like that’ll ever happwen!

    You think?

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